Death again stuns Monroe prison

  • By Eric Stevick and Scott North Herald Writers
  • Wednesday, June 1, 2011 12:01am
  • Local NewsMonroe

MONROE — A corrections officer who worked at the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe was found dead in his car Sunday at a sea plane base at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor, officials said.

The Island County Coroner’s office said the man, 49, died from a self-inflicted guns

hot wound.

His death came as a shock to co-workers, Monroe Correctional Complex Superintendent Scott Frakes said.

Fellow officers said the man seemed fine during his Friday and Saturday shifts, Frakes said.

“There were no outward signs that he was troubled,” he said. “It’s not one of those situations where people saw signals.”

The officer was known for his positive outlook in the workplace.

Frakes spent time with the man’s widow and family members Monday. A memorial service will be planned at the prison. No date has been set.

The officer worked for the state Department of Corrections since 2002. He had retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 22 years of service.

“He was a good officer, and he was very well respected,” corrections department spokeswoman Belinda Stewart said.

Frakes said it is hard to know what caused the officer to take his own life. The death came four months since his co-worker, corrections officer Jayme Biendl, was strangled while working at the reformatory chapel.

“He was friends with Jayme,” Frakes said. “There is no doubt that weighed heavily on him.”

Biendl, 34, was found in the reformatory sanctuary Jan. 29 with an amplifier cord wrapped around her neck several times. Convicted rapist Byron Scherf, who already is serving a life sentence, is accused of killing Biendl on Jan. 29. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The officer who died this week was a past member of the prison’s honor guard. He previously worked in the prison kitchen and recently moved to the recreation center.

His death has been hard on the staff, but people are pulling together and taking care of each other, Frakes said.

“There are so many unanswered questions,” Frakes said. “People want to know. They want to make sense of things.”

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446,

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

A closing sign hangs above the entrance of the Big Lots at Evergreen and Madison on Monday, July 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Big Lots announces it will shutter Everett and Lynnwood stores

The Marysville store will remain open for now. The retailer reported declining sales in the first quarter of the year.

President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr  to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman of supervision. The selection of Barr comes after Biden's first choice for the Fed post, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington Democrats voice support for Biden’s decision to drop out of presidential race

Some quickly endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ballot.

Teenager in stable condition after Everett drive-by shooting Saturday

Major Crime Unit detectives were looking for two suspects believed to have shot the teenager in the 600 block of 124th Street SW.

Miners Complex tops 500 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Nine lightning-caused fires force trail closures and warnings 21 miles east of Darrington. No homes are threatened.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.